Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday went on to become the first-ever hockey player to win the highly regarded ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.
The World Game declared the winner on Thursday after 20 days of voting by sports enthusiasts across the world.
"Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!," the World Games said in a statement.
"With an impressive number of votes, 199,477, Rani is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race, where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite during 20 days of polling in January. All in all, over 705,610 votes were cast during the poll," it added.
Earlier, India won the FIH series Finals, and Rani was designated the player of the tournament. Under Rani’s captanicy, the Indian women’s team made it to the third Olympic Games in its history.
"I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country. This success has only become possible with the love and support from hockey lovers, fans, my team, coaches, Hockey India, my government, friends from Bollywood, fellow sportspersons and my countrymen who have continuously voted for me," said Rani.
"Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition," she added.
"Rani is an inspirational athlete and a role model for many in India. It was amazing to see the support the Indians, even as high up as Mr. Rijiju, the Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports, gave to her in this vote together with the Hockey fans all around the world. This is what sport is about: uniting people from different backgrounds and different countries," said International World Games Association President Jose Perurena.
The International Hockey Federation also showered their wishes for Rani on being named for the award.
"Congratulations @imranirampal for becoming the first-ever Hockey athlete to win the prestigious @TheWorldGames Athlete of the Year award!" the FIH, who nominated Rani for the award, said in its twitter handle.
Huge congratulations to The World Games Athlete of the Year: Hockey star Rani 🇮🇳! Rani won the race with a massive number of votes: 199,477! She will receive a trophy & a prize from the official sponsor @ProtectiveLife🏆 #TheWorldGamesAOTY @FIH_Hockey @hockeyindia @imranirampal pic.twitter.com/gNfbpMq2Ze— The World Games (@TheWorldGames) January 30, 2020
"On behalf of FIH and the global hockey community, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Rani for having been voted The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. This is an acknowledgment of her outstanding performances - together with her team-mates - and her dedication to hockey and her leadership," FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.
"This prestigious award is also great recognition for hockey globally. Furthermore, we are working hard for and looking forward to having Hockey 5s as a demonstration sport at The World Games 2021."
A total of 25 athletes had been picked for this award from their respective sports by their international federations. The FIH had recommended Rani’s name for her brilliant performence and her ability to lead from the front.